Husband, sandwiched between two fretting babies, was trying to settle them down for a nap before I left for work. “I think they want to get up,” I said, watching him pat Robin’s back while Wren’s lower lip began to tremble. “They don’t want to go back to sleep.”
He sighed. “If I put them in the stroller they’ll be asleep before we’ve gone one block. We go through this every morning.”
What he said: “We go through this every morning.”
What I heard: “You don’t know how it works, because you’re not here.”
And I cried.
Being a working parent is not fun for me. Although Husband makes every effort to keep me in the loop – taking photos of the babies on their perambulations, regaling me with the details of their day – I feel left out of my family. When I call home from the office, I inevitably wake somebody up, so I try not to call. Before the babies were born, we planned to have Husband bring them in to the office a couple of times a week for a lunchtime visit; Wren’s hatred of the car and high gas prices have put the kibosh on that one. It often feels like we have a two-part family: husbandandkids, and me.
It would be easy for some to take my feelings and use them to bolster spurious arguments about what women “should” do, what our “place” is, so let me just head that line of thinking off right here. If my job were an interesting, rewarding place to be, I would feel less angst about being away. If I weren’t breastfeeding, and therefore pumping four times a day in my office (fun!), I would have an easier time ignoring the distance between me and my children. And if I didn’t know so many moms who stayed home with their kids, I might not grieve my own inability to make that happen. My gender alone does not determine my experience.
I am grateful that Husband is home with our babies, and that they will have a chance to forge a strong relationship right from the beginning. I only wish I could spend more time with all of them. And that money would rain down on us from heaven. Only cash, though; a quarter could do some serious damage from that height.